Is it not time for theologians to get upset?- James Cone, Black Theology & Black Power
The call to serve represents a selfless act of bravery and a revolutionary spirit. The role of the pastor as theologian is needed and necessary in a broken society. A society, a world of colonized thoughts must be invaded with theological depth that awakens the people to the obvious. No longer can church be the humdrum of the masses that affords churchgoers free networking opportunities and catwalks to display their new fashion sense. It must become a catalyst for change, an impetus for creative ideas that reconnect the community back to God.
Theologians can no longer argue over mundane doctrines that only serve to augment the ego. Theology must be used as a gauge, a tool to break through into new intellectual spaces for communal advancement. Theologians must do the hard work of developing ideas that benefit the believer in objective means rather than subjective arguments.
It is time for theologians to be bothered by the insensitive nature of a country that allows its people to suffer. Mere homiletical ingenuity without practical engagement is rendering the church useless- great preaching with no action.
How do we construct societal change through an theological lens?- is the question.
(White and black church are used as terms of identification not for separation identifiers.)
The need for a dialog about racial reconciliation is long overdue. The Trayvon Martin Trial (I use the Trayvon Martin Trial because he appeared to be the one on trial not George Zimmerman) brought an end to the entire premise of post-racial. The margin between black and white became extended with intensified reluctance from both parties in a search for a common place of peace. Even my own perspective highlights this point as well. Yes, I believe Trayvon was murdered because he was a young black male with a hoodie. There are others who believe Zimmerman was honestly trying to defend himself. But opposing views are highly based upon race. At the end of the day the only person who knows the real truth is George Zimmerman.
What this case has done is bring light to the racial disparity that this country has never really dealt with and probably never will deal with. But to add insult to injury the church has done an even poorer job of the very same thing. We have replaced reconciliation with silence and a theological stance of providence. We have not brought our prejudices to the table with clarity and boldness in order to develop a comprehensive plan of attack in our local context.
Here are my three points to ponder;
1. There must be an honest understanding leveraged by the white church that denotes that racial divide is a direct reflection of their behavior. There would not have been a need for a black church if everyone was treated equal. Black folks wanted and needed a black church to worship without feeling the need to still be in a submissive status to the slave master. (Even today many older black folks raise one figure up when leaving the church.) This was sign to the master that they need to excuse themselves and the finger was their form of asking permission. The maltreatment of black folks in church produces an AME church, National Baptist Convention, Progressive National Convention, COGIC and many more.
” America’s sin of racism has never even been confessed, much less repented for. Repenting for past sins against each other and being reconciled to one other” — Jim Wallis
2. The Black church is really not interested in having that conversation or a meaningful fellowship in white mainline denominations. These organizations have developed a theology and precedent that they are not ready to release in order to make white churches feel comfortable. They have carved out a sacred space that places them in preservation mode. There are traditional practices that have become emblems of progress and change that the black church will never relinquish just to be considered diverse. To allow the white church to infiltrate that would resemble something remotely close to a Trojan Horse ethos.
3. Most pastors will not engage this topic for the simple fact that it might expose them as being the main culprits of the act. There is not that type of honest introspection being done by most because they live a box with people who look like them. There is an escapism mentality that calls for the problem of racism to be overlooked. It is Derrick Bell who quotes a friend when he says,
“People looking to escape are not worried about solutions.”- Derrick Bell
This is something to start the dialog. There are a lot of things flowing in my mind but I think this gets it going in a right direction.